Diana & LJ's Journey

Diana & LJ's Journey

"On October 19th, 2022, I learned my soon-to-be-born son would need surgery to repair his intestines after his birth. There were so many questions, and honestly, not many answers at first. I quickly heard about Ronald McDonald House from the genetics team at the hospital. I called and spoke with the House Manager and was immediately put at ease knowing that when the time came, I would be able to be a block away from my son when he was in the NICU.

The weeks leading up to my son’s birth were a whirlwind of emotion and uncertainty. At my checkup, on November 15th, my amniotic fluid had risen to an unsafe level and I was told to go to the hospital at 8:00 p.m. to start the induction process.

It was a sleepless night in the hospital. At 4:46 a.m., the doctor accidentally broke my water while checking to see if I was dilating.

My labor was anything but ordinary and within a short time things got very scary. The doctors were unable to detect my son’s heart rate and made the decision to perform an emergency C-section. I was rushed to the operating room and was put under general anesthesia as I had not had an epidural. At 6:36 a.m., Lucas Jr. (LJ) was born.

While the doctors were delivering him, his femur was broken. This was another completely unexpected challenge that we now had to face. I was unable to hold my son for over 48 hours due to his broken leg. LJ and I both had surgery on the 16th, me to deliver him and him to repair his intestines. I recovered very well and so has my amazingly strong son.

On the 19th, I was discharged and LJ had to stay in the hospital. I checked into the Ronald McDonald House and the staff was amazing - so kind and compassionate and made the transition seamless for me. There's something so welcoming and comfortable about being at the House. So much thought and care has been put into making every single thing easier for families in their time of need. My father and stepmother were able to bring me supplies and come in and see the House and all of its glory.

After our initial 14 day stay in the NICU, we were able to go home on November 30th. LJ was exactly 2 weeks old and I was ready to have my whole family home and together finally. Everything was perfect. It was amazing to have him home and be able to hold him, not limited by wires, whenever we wanted. We were all settling into a routine and LJ was able to meet some of the people who had only been able to love him from a distance previously.

On Sunday, December 11th, I noticed LJ was not acting himself. I felt in my gut that something was wrong and I watched him like a hawk. The next morning, I took LJ to the ER near our home. I told them everything that was going on and they took us right in. LJ was dehydrated and cold. Come to find out, when babies are very sick, they get cold not hot. We were flown by helicopter back to the hospital.

LJ was re-admitted into the NICU on Monday night, and by Tuesday evening he was rushed into surgery to have a blockage removed. They removed 20 inches of his intestines and left his abdomen open with a wound VAC with plans to go back in on Friday to figure out our next course of action.

Through all of our anxiety and fear, there is one constant - the staff at the Ronald McDonald House. They welcomed me with open arms and hugs and made this terrible time more bearable. I never feel alone or without someone who genuinely cares to talk to. Being without family during the holidays was very hard and everyone here made it so much easier.

LJ has been in the NICU for over 100 days now and is getting better, but we still don't know when we will be able to go home. I'm so thankful I'm able to stay within 5 minutes of him and not have to be stressed. The staff are so genuine in their care and concern. I truly feel like I am with family. I am so thankful and blessed to be able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. The generosity that is being given to me and my family will never be forgotten. I now have a new favorite charity, as do my family and friends.

I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for what you have done for me and my family. I love you all. Thank you a million times over and it still isn't enough.” - Diana Fillio

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